“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” – James 4:4 ESV
There is most definitely a line. So rather, we need to ask the question have we crossed the line? I’m sure some will say that this may be a controversial question. How can Christian hip-hop and gospel artists be loving and kind if they refuse to work with or associate with some secular artists, but yet choose to work with others? And why does it seem like the church is indistinguishable from the world?– Especially when it relates to how CHH artists present the music and the culture in today’s society. It can be not so easy to see what’s happing from outside of the church looking in. At times, even from the inside looking in for that matter.
Sadly, popularity and money dictate today’s culture. It is very apparent that the church is trying to embed itself into this way of thinking also. In other words, it seems as if any CHH artists desire to be relevant and wealthy, they need to be in tune with the current secular parts of the hip hop “culture.” Yet at what cost? Who’s going to take a stand? It’s one thing to embrace hip-hop culture. It’s another to be completely undifferentiated from it. Honestly, I wonder where this is all going sometimes?
I’ve somewhat lost my interest to a big extent when it comes to listening to most current CHH artists’ music. I don’t listen to it as much as I used to. I probably got lost somewhere around the mumble rap phase or maybe trap phase…Who knows? The fact is, I just started listening less and less. The only times I seemed to really pay attention was if my favorite CHH artists were collaborating or if it was a special project like The Gift from Reach Records at Christmas time. Otherwise, it all just seemed to be less and less about the ministry and more so about the music and fandom.
But this is just maybe my opinion. I guess I’m just getting older and less culturally aware. Yet as I see it, it’s somewhat troubling to think back to that time not so many years ago when it seemed as if everyone forgot who they were. They just wanted to be a part of something “great” and seemingly different. I watched social media posts from everyone I followed in the industry hailing a particular secular rappers’ album as the best CHH album ever! Even though the rapper himself had not claimed publicly, at least to my knowledge, to even be a believer let alone a Christian. Still, everyone was convinced he had turned a new leaf and was a converted believer. The proof as they say is always in the pudding. The pudding, being one’s lifestyle rather than one’s artistry.
The illusion was so mesmerizing that even today some are still saying that said rapper is the greatest and his CHH album was the best CHH album of all time. Some said that he is just a little spiritually lost and needs some time and grace. Well as we can see as time goes on, this was a big understatement of the issue. I think what he needs/needed was some real discipleship, guidance, and even some counseling. I mean did anyone from the church ask who this artist listens to? Who does he admire in the genre? Most importantly who is his spiritual covering? Why does his album have to dominate in a genre that struggles to get any proper recognition even in its’ own musical circle?
Was the genre that desperate for attention? Some were even asking the question if Christian rap was dead? I truly don’t want to believe that this particular rapper that shall go un-named actually thinks he is akin to our real Lord and savior. But in the back of my mind, I think he truly believes this about himself. And from what I had seen that was clear in his actions. And furthermore, it was somewhat surprising to see the way the Christian community embraced him so quickly and so completely. I honestly believe some people think he is the savior of CHH and that he through his genius had worked a miracle on the church’s behalf. Even though this may not have been his interest or intention at all.
I have written all of this just to say though, that it would be so amazing if we could be more supportive and protective of our own spaces. Fame and riches belong to the world for a reason. And that the church community needs to draw the line as to who we let represent us. We should be the ones bringing people together, whether it’s to be outside in the middle of a desert, in an arena, or just inside the walls of a church.